Lewd public behavior – especially in the cramped confines of a subway car – has long been regarded as a necessary hassle of New York living, says the Los AngelesTimes. Lately there are signs that the city is no longer taking it in stride, with the police and citizens turning their attention to exposing the culprits. The New York Police Department has staged undercover stings – including one called “Operation Exposure” – to catch gropers and flashers in the act. This year, police have made 245 arrests for forcible touching, lewd behavior or sexual abuse on the subways – an increase of 131 percent over last year.
James Hall, commanding officer of the New York Police Department transit bureau, launched the enforcement effort this spring after noticing an increase in harassment complaints from female riders. “To me, it’s a really big quality-of-life issue,” he added. “Certainly, you have to have priorities when you’re in law enforcement. Graffiti is bad, vandalism is bad. But these are women who are just trying to get to work, and they shouldn’t be subjected to this.” With subway crime down 19 percent over last year – the transit bureau has been able to devote more resources to targeting lewd behavior, and now regularly deploys plainclothes officers onto the trains to look for gropers and flashers. In some cases, men have been caught after fondling female officers posing as businesswomen. Women have been fighting back on their own as well, posting cellphone-snapped photos of offenders on a website devoted to outing the perpetrators: www.hollabacknyc.blogspot.com.